Malaysian investor Astro All Asia Networks is picking up 50% stake in New Delhi-based GETIT Infoservices which publishes Yellow Pages for Rs 96 crore valuing the firm that is into classifieds space at about Rs 200 crore, as per its application to the foreign investment promotion board (FIPB). FIPB is the nodal body clearing foreign investment into the country.

GETIT will use the money to expand business to publish and distribute classified advertisements and buy guides or FreeAds among other initiatives. FreeAds is India’s first free-classified advertising paper from GETIT with operations in four cities. GETIT also plans to expand on the Web and mobile application services space, as per a report by Financial Express.

Notably, the present deal values GETIT at the same level as in 2008 when venture capital fund Helion Venture Partners bought a 10% stake in the firm for around Rs 20 crore.

For Malaysian cross-media group Astro, that has presence in DTH TV services besides commercial radio and TV programming, it is not the first investment in India. It has an exposure in Kalanithi Maran's Sun Direct DTH and also owns 20% stake in South Asia FM, the private FM venture of the SunTV Group.

Astro has also been scouting for fresh investments opportunities in television content firms and cable operators. In July it had also acquired 80% stake in Sanjeev Kapoor's Turmeric Vision Pvt Ltd that valued the firm at Rs 152.5 crore. This firm is to launch 24 hours

food channel.

Foreign investors have been pretty active in the classifieds space with estimates suggesting cumulative investment of around Rs 700 crore in the last three years, the highest in the non-news print media space according to FE. Not without reason either, the Rs 1,200 crore

classifieds business has been reporting double-digit growth boosted by free circulation model.

Other deals in the space in the past include Mumbai-based local search firm Just Dial receiving almost Rs 170 crore including SAIF Partners’ investment of Rs 50 crore for 20% stake four years ago, followed by Rs 77-crore investment by Tiger Global in 2007 for another 20%. Sequoia Capital picked around 10% stake for Rs 40 crore last year in a

secondary deal, valuing the firm at Rs 400 crore or almost twice that of GETIT.

In December '08, internet giant Yahoo acquired 30% stake in Chennai-based Network Management Co. Pvt. Ltd, which owns the telephone-based directory search service Call Ezee. In another deal, Television Eighteen India Ltd (TV18) acquired Infomedia18 from ICICI Venture in 2007. Other venture-backed players in this space include AskLaila of Four Interactive (Lightspeed, Matrix and SVB) and Sulekha (Norwest, Indigo Monsoon).

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